POP Editorial: Anthony Weiner–Was That Really Necessary…? Why Our Sights Should Be Elsewhere

Yes, over the last three weeks, “Weinergate” has become a huge distraction from the real issues that this country has to face. But this is nowhere near the first sex scandal in politics, and definitely not the worst.

On June 16, 2011, after more than a dozen years in political office, Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress amidst his sexting scandal.

Just shortly after 2:30pm, Weiner walked into the conference room, bombarded by flashbulbs ready to catch the last few moments in a shamed politician’s career.  He took the microphone, looked out at his constituents, and announced that while he is proud of his upbringing and career, his recent situation has become too big a distraction for the city of New York.

Yes, over the last three weeks, “Weinergate” has become a huge distraction from the real issues that this country has to face.  But this is nowhere near the first sex scandal in politics, and definitely not the worst.  Look at the competition:

Sen. Larry Craig – arrested at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport after propositioning an undercover cop in a bathroom stall.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer – After years of fighting New York prostitution, was found to have at least seven or eight liaisons with prostitutes over six months.  Resigned.

John Ensign – Paid people off to cover an extramarital affair with campaign staffer.  Resigned.

Jim McGreevey – extramarital affair with another man.  Resigned.

Mark Sanford – abandoned office and family for a week when he flew to Argentina for his “soul mate”.  Office said he went “hiking on the Appalachian Trail”.

Bill Clintonextramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.  Lied under oath.  Still considered by many to be our last great president.

John Edwards – extramarital affair and had a child out of wedlock, all while wife was battling cancer.  Resigned, and indicted on six felony charges

Arnold Schwarzenegger – extramarital affair with a housekeeper, led to a child out of wedlock, just five days after his youngest was born.

And remember, these are only a few sex scandals amidst the rest and all the other non-political sex scandals (Charles Rangel).  What I ask is, is a sexting and Twitter scandal anywhere near as bad, and does it deserve this level of punishment?

We elect politicians based on the sole fact that we believe they will do right by us.  They will represent our little corner of the country with all the passion that we should have, because they are, in a perfect world, the perfect versions of ourselves that we want to be.

A Pew Research Poll says that a 57%-majority feel elected officials get caught more often while cheating not because of lower moral standards, but because they are under greater scrutiny.  What we don’t realize is that politicians, just like all of us, are human.  And I think what hurt us the most is seeing someone that should have been a piece of gold have his own cracks

Let’s be clear: at the time of this writing, Anthony Weiner never had a physical extramarital affair.  He sent a few messages that helped him entertain the notion (like many gentlemen would in his position) that he, as a good looking Congressman, could get any girl he wanted.

Sexting, sadly, has become a way of life not just for Weiner, but society.  That’s what Donald Trump, who said Weiner was a “psycho” with a “deathwish”, while trying to hold tight his 15 minutes of political fame (and frankly, coming off more like Spencer and Heidi Pratt than a respected real estate mogul), and Weiner’s girls’ (also grasping their mere 5 minutes…) fail to realize.  We constantly hear news reports of teen and adult sexting and sending pictures.  It’s a side of a person only a few see, and I could only imagine how humiliating it is to have that side exposed.

If you look at Anthony Weiner’s record, the man came up through public schools and worked his butt off to make something of himself.  Maybe he was extreme (pushing his staff to the point that he “presided over more turnover than any other member of the New York House delegation in the last six years”), but he fought for his beliefs, including the now famous ripping apart of Republicans over the 9/11 Health Bill.  Yes, Weiner was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  His first instinct was to say no, and he went with it.  When he was found out, he took responsibility, and was up at that podium for 20 minutes taking every question because he knew we, as his state, deserved answers.

Again, this is a country where Political men have propositioned other men in public bathrooms and had a child out of wedlock while their wife was battling cancer.  This is a country where there are so many other politicians legitimately destroying Main Street while helping big banks, and we never hear of them because they’re too old to know how to use Twitter even if they wanted a sex scandal.  Weiner didn’t pay off anyone, or abandon his office for a week.  Yes, he was humiliated, we will look at him differently, and I can’t even imagine the pain he caused his wife, but let him deal with that trouble at home.  Shouldn’t we be going after bigger fish?  We should be talking about health care, jobs, and the Middle East.  But let’s be honest…“Weiner’s Weiner” and the circus clown known as Andrew Breitbart (who rivals the city of Cleveland for the “Most Bitter” award…seriously, dude, move on), is so much more fun.

By the way, anybody on the East Coast paying attention to Arnold or John Edwards anymore?  Exactly…

Even with his unorthodox ways, at the core, Anthony Weiner cared about this state.  A NY1-Marist poll in Weiner’s district found 56 percent of registered voters didn’t want Weiner to quit.  But maybe it was necessary for the Democratic Party to get back to work.  And when he came out just shortly after 2:30pm to a sea of flashbulbs, we did not see a dog with his tail between his legs.  Even in the face of a heckler shouting some of the most disgusting things spoken at a press conference, Weiner kept his composure (earning exactly the opposite of what the heckler wanted to give him: respect and dignity).  We did not see the last moments of a shamed politician’s career, but a man standing tall, admitting his faults, and telling his state that he will be back.

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